Mayor Kirk Caldwell reopening city parks for exercise, extending Honolulu stay-at-home order

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said today he is extending the stay-at-home, work-from-home order “with modifications” for Honolulu through May and is reopening city parks for exercise only, beginning 5 a.m. Saturday.

He also announced a $2 million program for about 10,000 more COVID-19 tests to be conducted by community centers around the island who provide health care for underserved populations. “In order to open up, we need to do more testing, a lot more testing,” he said.

Caldwell’s original stay-at-home, work-from-home order was set to expire at the end of the month.

At today’s press conference, Caldwell said some businesses may be allowed to open before May 31 if it is safe to do so. “If this (new positive coronavirus cases) stays low, we can start talking about opening up other things too — in a phased way,” Caldwell said.

“We’re not going to be returning to a new normal anytime soon …. not until there’s new treatment therapies that are aggressive and really show that if you get sick, you’re treated rapidly and you become well,” Caldwell said. “The end game is really a vaccine, which they project is 18 months away, 24 months away.”

The idea is to slowly reopen segments of society as safety allows “and at the end of the day, the order will disappear end and we’ll return to the life we lived before the pandemic struck.”

He said he expects sports or other entertainment events may be the last to reopen because they entail large numbers of people gathering in confined areas. “That doesn’t mean … we’re not going to see sports won’t be played, but we’ll be watching from afar, from our TV screens but not in person sitting in bleachers.”

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Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell urges all Oahu residents to wear masks outside

Mayor Kirk Caldwell urged all Oahu residents today to wear face masks when going outside to help fight the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’re asking all residents on this island, when you go outside, whether it is to shop, to jog, whatever it is you do, to wear a mask,” he said at a news conference this afternoon.

He said residents shouldn’t wear N95 masks, which are for first responders and in short supply, but should wear cloth masks that could be homemade or purchased.

“The point is, to wear a mask,” he said. “It doesn’t give you 100% protection. But it does protect you in two ways.”

He said there are folks who are asymptomatic who could transmit the virus without any signs of illness, and a mask could protect others from such a person. Masks also prevent people from touching their faces, he said.

“It’s a recommendation. A very, very strong recommendation,” he said. “Everyone on this island, when you go out in public, please wear a mask that you’ve either acquired or made that’s not an N95 mask or a surgical mask.”

Kuakini Medical Center emergency room doctor Darragh O’Carroll said up to 20% of those infected don’t show any symptoms so could be spreading the virus to others.

To watch Mayor Caldwell’s new conference, click here